Dating, a journey filled with laughter, shared experiences, and the thrill of discovering love. Yet, it's not always a straightforward path to navigate.
It is a dance.
The intricate dance of falling in love, building a connection with your dating partner, and intertwining it with your personal faith – the desire and commitment to honour God in your dating relationship.
Picture this: You're head over heels for your boyfriend or girlfriend – and that's a beautiful thing! The attraction is magnetic, and the desire to be close is undeniable. In the midst of the excitement, however, boundaries are crossed, and your relationship takes on a sexual dimension. While the moment may have ‘felt right’, a wave of guilt washes over you afterwards.
What do you do now?
As a dating couple, how can you move forward and seek redemption, grace, and a renewed connection with each other and your faith?
Here are some things you can do to move forward in your faith and relationship:
1. Forgive yourselves
The road to redemption begins with the powerful act of forgiveness. 1 John 8 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Beating yourself up about your past mistakes or living in regret only keeps you bound. Punishing yourself won’t bring you freedom. Confessing your sins to God, who is faithful and just, will open up the door to healing and freedom. Go on the journey of making peace with your past. This means talking to yourself like you would to someone you love. We are often too hard on ourselves. Remember that no one is perfect, and God does not expect perfection. But He asks us to come to Him and confess our sins, and he promises He will make us righteous.
2. Start Fresh Today
Every day is a new opportunity for God’s grace and a chance to start afresh. Lamentations 3:22-23 encourages us with the words, "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning." There is beauty in this new day! Today, you have the chance to build your relationship on the foundations of faith, trust, and shared values and convictions. We can't change the past, but what we can change is today and what our tomorrow can look like.
3. Have Vulnerable Conversations for Healing
Healing often begins with vulnerability. James 5:16 encourages us to "confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." Engage in open and honest conversations with your partner, and share your feelings, perspectives, fears and desires for your relationship. Get on the same page and come up with a plan on how you both will move forward in your dating relationship to honour God and each other.
4. Seek Wise Counsel
Navigating the complexities of faith and intimacy is not easy to do on our own! We all need wise counsel! Proverbs 15:22 reminds us, "Without counsel, plans fail, but with many advisers, they succeed." Reach out to trusted friends, family members, pastors, and leaders who can offer valuable insights and support. People you feel safe with, that won't judge you but extend grace, love and encouragement to you. Speak to couples who are further along in the journey, glean from their experience as a dating or married couple and get wisdom and ideas from their journey. We can learn from others.
5. Develop accountability with friends or mentors
We can often want to deal with things on our own. We don’t want people to know our struggles. But you are not created to do life alone. Shame has a way of stifling growth and hindering intimacy. It thrives on secrets, silence and judgment. Remove the shackles of shame by bringing things out into the open, in safe spaces with people you trust, who can pray for you, speak truth to your situation and offer wise counsel. Ask these trusted and safe people to keep you accountable to your goals, convictions and values for your relationship.
Ephesians 2:8-9 assures us, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God." Embrace the transformative power of grace, allowing it to wash away any lingering shame.
By forgiving yourselves, starting fresh each day, engaging in vulnerable conversations, seeking wise counsel, and removing the shackles of shame by developing accountability, you pave the way for a future where your relationship with God and each other can flourish.